Meredith Zerby

A big congrats to Meredith Zerby (@meredithzerby), one of our 30 TDK Awards winners' for 2020. A Maryland Institute College of Art graduate from Washington D.C., their work was chosen by Tony Brook from @spin_studio in London: 'The first impression from Meredith's folio is she's confident across many mediums - there are hand made aspects, advanced image-making, strong branding and even products in there. The use of type and colour tie everything back together'.⁠ We asked Meredith to answer a few questions for next years TDK Awards hopefuls.

What do you wish you’d known now when you started your design course?

Magic happens when you trust your gut and have the courage to see your ideas through! I’ve learned in this creative field you will be bombarded with different opinions, but doing what makes you happy and excited to learn, rather than trying to please others will, in the end, serve you best. If you feel strongly about the direction for a project, don’t be afraid to respectfully hold your ground with your professor if you don’t see eye to eye. They’re here to help you succeed, so try to work together to find a solution that’s the best of both worlds. Be your biggest cheerleader!

It’s ok to make time for your other passions outside of graphic design. There is a mentality in this field, especially while at school, that if you aren’t eating, breathing, sleeping design, you must not be committed to your practice. Finding a balance is important, and something I am continually having to work towards. Absolutely work hard and give it your all, but also remember there’s value in taking time away from the computer. Go to a museum, see a movie, hang out with friends or go to that new restaurant you’ve been eager to try. The break and new source of inspiration will enrich your repertoire, making you a better, more informed designer and overall happier person.

What originally led you into design, and how has that changed - what do you want to do/are doing now?

Similar to many in this field, I’ve always grown up painting, drawing and crafting. I was lucky to grow up in a family full of creative, witty people, where each birthday you could expect a hilarious, hand-made card with your face on it. I had never heard of graphic design before my freshman year at university and didn’t attend a college that specialized in art. That said, my academic advisor put me in a drawing course during my first semester which happened to be in the graphic design building. When I saw the design students’ work exhibited in the hallway, I knew I had found what I wanted to pursue. It’s funny, I used to say I didn’t want a job that has me sitting at a desk behind a computer all day. Well, here were are and I haven’t looked back!

Currently, I’m pursuing my MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art, exposing myself to as many making methods and courses possible. Interested in the intersection between art and design, I’m exploring subjects such as avant-garde film as well as immersive experience design. I’m interested in how this craft cultivates conversations and shapes narrative, making work that’s expressive and driven by narrative. I love how through design I can be an image-maker, typographer, copywriter, illustrator, etc.

Design work by Meredith Zerby The Design Kids interviews Meredith Zerby work-2

Any hot tips for getting ahead at uni?

In design school it’s 100% true you get out what you put in. Be fearless and take risks, always eager with persistent curiosity. Enjoy the fact that in school, anything is possible. Embrace this freedom in your projects. Try everything! Explore other making processes besides those strictly done on a computer and, most importantly, build relationships with your professors. I’ve had many exceptional professors and there’s no doubt their influence, guidance, and critique has gotten me where I am today. I’m also lucky to have found supportive friends in school whom I can bounce ideas off of and trust to provide genuine, honest feedback. Nobody truly does it alone, and for them, I am extremely thankful.

Lastly, don’t let the amazing work you see on Behance and Instagram keep you from appreciating the great qualities in your own. Everyone experiences self-doubt as part of this personal profession. It means you are invested in what you create. Just remember your star shines bright and your creative voice matters.

What do you love about the design scene in your city and what companies are on your dream list to work or collaborate with?

I just moved to Baltimore this past semester and am still getting familiar with the design scene here. Also, it’s easy to hop on the train and be in DC in 45 minutes where I have access to top-tier museums and amazing art. I do have to brag about my home city though, Oklahoma City. The art and design scene is really blossoming there and it’s awesome to see how, with all the new growth and expansion, young artists’ voices are being amplified through the vibrant creative community.

I’m drawn to companies that create emotive work that isn’t afraid to embrace the weird. I tend to gravitate towards projects that are experimental, full of spirit and infused with lots of color. Some of my dream studios and companies are &Walsh, Hey Studio, My Name is Wendy, A Friend of Mine, Pentagram, Tractorbeam, and ByFutura to name a few!

Design work by Meredith Zerby The Design Kids interviews Meredith Zerby work-4
Design work by Meredith Zerby The Design Kids interviews Meredith Zerby work-4

In design school it’s 100% true you get out what you put in.

Where do you see your career in 5 years?

Having dreams and setting goals is important in keeping you motivated and working hard. However, I’ve learned to have your future completely planned out isolates you from the different opportunities living life presents. If I had mapped out my life five years ago, I wouldn’t have lived in London last year and currently be attending graduate school on the East Coast. My eyes are constantly being opened to the possibilities of this profession and the different paths you can pursue within graphic design. In the next five years, I want to be around good people, creating fulfilling work and embracing every opportunity given to try something new and travel.

I do; however, want to speak into existence through this interview that I will have a dog in the next 5 years.

2020 for you in a sentence

Hooray, the mini-mart has Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked flavor today.

Design work by Meredith Zerby The Design Kids interviews Meredith Zerby work-6
Design work by Meredith Zerby The Design Kids interviews Meredith Zerby work-6

Where to find Meredith Zerby online.

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